The International Criminal Court (ICC) awarded victims of crimes against humanity and war crimes compensation for their suffering.

By Benjamin Duerr, Mukwege Foundation

276 persons from Congo receive a symbolic compensation of 250 dollar per victim, judges of the ICC in The Hague ruled on Friday. They also ordered to make collective reparations to the communities in the form of support for housing, support for income‑generating activities, education aid and psychological support.

ICC has a unique reparations scheme

The decision relates to the case against the Congolese rebel leader Germain Katanga who was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes in 2014. Rebels of his militia had attacked the village of Bogoro in Eastern Congo where they raped and killed about 200 people.

The ICC has a reparations scheme which is unique at the international level. Victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes can apply to participate in the proceedings and have the possibility to receive reparations.

Usually, financial compensation is only awarded to victims of crimes an accused has been convicted of. While Katanga was convicted of murder, attack against the civilian population and pillaging, he was acquitted of rape.

Rape victims could receive compensation, too

However, the judges on Friday decided that the victims of sexual violence crimes could still receive reparations.

They asked the ICC Trust Fund for Victims, which is in charge of coordinating and awarding the reparations, to consider victims of sexual violence under its general mandate to assist survivors.

Excluding victims from reparations could reinforce stigmatization

Victims of sexual violence are often confronted with stigmatization. Excluding them from the reparations procedure could reinforce this exclusion from the society.

More generally, the ICC decision extends the concept of justice by acknowledging that not only criminal justice, but also restorative justice is important for survivors to rebuild their lives.


Photo: ICC judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut at the reparations hearing in the Katanga case. Credit: ICC-CPI


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